Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
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Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (often shortened to simply Mr. Rogers) was an American half-hour educational show that ran on PBS. The series was aimed primarily at preschoolers ages 2–5, but its soothing feel made it background noise among adults when they're drinking coffee, reading a magazine, or trying to fall asleep. It ran for over three decades, or four if you count repeats.
The series was hosted by Fred "Mr." Rogers, a kindly old man who took neighbors for a walk around his neighborhood, typically on days with swell weather. With his sweet and innocent demure, you'd never guess this guy was a Vietnam veteran. Despite his joyous exterior, however, there were hints that Rodgers suffered from mental instability, as he often hallucinated that there was a fairytale land behind the wall in his living room.
The real-life Mr. Rogers Neighborhood is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Contrary to what is seen in the show, Pittsburgh is a soulless and polluted metropolis, and should be avoided by anyone who does not live there. Come to think of it, people who live there should also try to avoid it.
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood consisted of Rogers speaking directly to his neighbor about various issues, taking the viewer on tours of factories, demonstrating experiments, crafts, and music, and interacting with his friends. Rogers covered a broad range of topics over the years, and the series did not shy away from issues that other children's programming avoided. In fact, Rogers endeared himself to many when, in April 1968, he dealt with the grief of leaving a cake out in the rain. The series also dealt with competition, divorce, and war. Rogers returned to the topic of anger regularly and focused on peaceful ways of dealing with angry feelings. The half-hour episodes were punctuated by a segment chronicling occurrences in the Weird Puppet-Filled Neighborhood That May or May Not Exist.
During the opening sequence of each episode, the camera pans slowly over a very well-constructed model of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, while the Neighborhood Trolley crosses a couple of streets from left to right. This is the same model electric trolley that later in the program will transport viewers into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Following that, Freddy enters his television studio house, singing "It's a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood". He hangs his coat in a closet, puts on a cardigan zipper sweater, and removes his dress shoes to put on a pair of blue sneakers.
In the closing of each episode, Mr. Rogers sings "Sunshine Day" as he removes his sneakers and puts his shoes back on, and then switches out of his sweater and back to his coat. At the end of the song, he reminds the viewers that "You always make each day a special day. You know how: by just your being yourself, blah blah blah, don't do drugs, stay in school." He then signs off as he walks out the door, usually by saying, "I'm outta here!" As the end credits roll complete with title and episode number, the camera does a reverse pan of his model neighborhood, with footage of the Neighborhood Trolley reversed so it now crosses from right to left! Woah!
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood began in 1966. In 2001, police brutality in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood came to a head with the brutal clubbing death of Lady Aberlin. Massive protests ensued, culminating with a police riot in which 6 puppets were killed. Neighborhood tenants' unions responded by organizing to set up barricades, excluding the police from the Neighborhood. Three days later, riot police attacked the barricades, but were forced to withdraw, leaving the people to manage their own affairs, a feat accomplished through a combination of consensus-based tenants' unions and the I-Ching.
This controversy lead to PBS canceling the series. Mr. Rogers retired to pursue more lucrative career options, such as underwater basket weaving. On February 27, 2003, Rogers unfortunately passed away, though PBS continued to play reruns of the show to respect his memory. That is, until 2007, when they randomly yanked it off their schedule, replacing such an enduring classic with poorly-animated Flash mediocrity.